The Judds

  • Country mother and daughter singers Naomi and Wynonna Judd from Ashland Kentucky. Their recording career began in 1983. Naomi also contributed to songwriting, and Wynonna played the guitar. Naomi died in 2022 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after years of mental illness.
  • Naomi was born in 1946, named Diana Judd. At age 18, she married and gave birth to a daughter named Christina Ciminella. Diana and Christina moved to Los Angeles in 1968, and after Diana divorced her husband, mother and daughter lived in California on welfare. In 1976, Diana and Christina moved home to Kentucky. Christina received a guitar for Christmas and she learned to play. She began to perform country music, and mother and daughter moved to Nashville in 1979, hoping to make a career in music.  Starting a new life, Diana changed her name to Naomi and started to perform with her daughter. Meanwhile, Christina adopted the stage name of Wynonna, and she took her mother’s last name of Judd.
  • For several years, Naomi promoted the duo to anyone who would listen to them. In 1983 they got their break when Naomi convinced a record producer to come listen to them sing at her home. The producer enjoyed the performance, and they were signed to a recording contract.
  • Their first release was an EP titled Wynonna & Naomi, released in early 1984. The first single from the EP was Had a Dream (For the Heart). It peaked at #17 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Their second single was their breakthrough – Mama He’s Crazy topped the country chart, and suddenly they were stars. The Judds won a Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song. Later in 1984, both songs were included in their debut album, Why Not Me. The album topped the Country Albums chart and was certified 2x platinum. It included three more singles that would top the Country Songs chart – the title track, Girls’ Night Out and Love Is Alive. The song Why Not Me earned them their second Grammy award.
  • Their next two albums – Rockin’ With the Rhythm and Heartland – were released in 1985 and 1987. Both topped the Country Albums chart and both were certified platinum. Seven singles from these albums peaked at #1 on the Country Songs chart. One of them – Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days) – led to their third consecutive Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group.
  • A Christmas album was released in 1987, followed by a Greatest Hits compilation in 1988. Included on the Greatest Hits album were two singles – Give a Little Love reached #2 on the Country Songs chart, and it won them their fourth Grammy award. Also released was Change of Heart, originally part of their 1984 EP. Change of Heart became their twelfth song to reach #1. In 1989, they released their River of Time album. It was less successful but still sold well, with two singles that topped the Country Songs chart – Young Love (Strong Love) and Let Me Tell You About Love.
  • At this point, Naomi was steering the path of the duo while Wynonna was growing more confident in herself as a potential solo country music star. In 1990, they released their final studio album, Love Can Build a Bridge. Three singles reached the top ten of the Country chart, with the title track winning their last Grammy award. In 1991, Naomi was diagnosed with hepatits C, which accelerated their plan to end their musical partnership. The tour to support the album was their farewell tour. Wynonna continued a successful solo career in country music.
  • Wynonna and Naomi performed several reunion shows over the years, including the 1994 Super Bowl Halftime Show, several shows in 2008, and a mini-tour in 2011. Their final performance together was at the 2022 CMT Music Awards, where they performed Love Can Build a Bridge from the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
  • A tour was announced in April 2022 that was scheduled to begin in October that year. On May 1 2022, the Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, the day before the Hall of Fame induction, Naomi committed suicide, killing herself with a gunshot. She had suffered from mental illness for years, struggling with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Her medications for the illness caused further distress for her. The induction of the Judds into the Hall of Fame proceeded despite the tragedy.
  • It’s a remarkable story of success. Mother and daughter, hoping to scrape out a career in music, beating all of the odds to become wildly successful. Here is the final performance of Naomi and Wynonna at the 2022 CMT Music Awards. RIP Naomi Judd.

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